Iceland builds wall to protect power plant from lava

File photo of Svartsengi Power Plant
Image caption,Protective walls are being built around Svartsengi Power Plant

Icelandic authorities are building protective walls around a geothermal power plant in the country’s southwest to protect it from possible lava flows.

Officials hope to protect the Svartsengi plant as scientists warn a volcanic eruption could be imminent.

Nearly 800 earthquakes have been recorded on the Reykjanes peninsula near the capital Reykjavik.

The increased seismic activity has raised alarms they could be a precursor to an eruption.

On Saturday, thousands were evacuated from the nearby fishing town of Grindavik.

A large dyke is being constructed to divert potential lava flows around the plant, which is located just over 6km (3.7 miles) from the town.

The power station’s operator HS Orka confirmed to the BBC that defensive measures were being implemented at the site.

A spokesman for the company said the plant provides power to the entire country but supplies to the capital would not be affected by a disruption.

Equipment and materials that could fill 20,000 trucks were being moved to the plant, the country’s Justice Minister Gudrun Hafsteinsdottir reported to state broadcaster RUV.

Seismic activity increased on the Reykjanes peninsula over the weekend.

However, despite a decrease in activity on Monday the Icelandic Meteorological Institute said that the probability of an eruption remained high.

“Less seismic activity typically precedes an eruption,” Rikke Pedersen, head of the Reykjavik based Nordic Volcanological Centre, told Reuters.

“It should never be taken as a sign that an outbreak is not on the way,” she added.

Over the weekend, around 3,000 residents of the fishing port of Grindavik were forced to swap their homes for temporary accommodation after earthquakes occurred in the area.

The BBC was allowed into the town very briefly on Tuesday, as authorities took in small groups of residents under escort to allow them to quickly retrieve their belongings.

However, the BBC was told to evacuate immediately, with a government official later reporting that sulphur dioxide was detected in the area.

That led to fears that there might be an “opening” in the ground somewhere with magma possibly nearing the surface.

Map of Reykjanes peninsula

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